At long last, a methodical IT guru actually subjected himself to the trials and tribulations of the faulty Obamacare sign-up site to reveal the true source of its design challenges, which could take 30 days to fix.
“Stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully, that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made,” advises Consumer Reports in a public advisory, also noting that the site was plagued by “garbled instructions” and “needlessly complicated” user maneuvers. And, oh, the bane of electronic cookies. They are the culprits, according to software tester Ben Simo, who analyzed the site for the consumer group.
“If you log in to Healthcare.gov and get nothing but a blank page, what’s likely happening is that in your previous visits to Healthcare.gov, your browser got loaded up with lots of cookies, bits of data and code that are implanted for later retrieval and use by Healthcare.gov,” Mr. Simo told the consumer site.
“The problem is that the cookie files are bigger than what the website can accept back. Yes, a design error. Result: a blank page,” he says.
Cookies, for the uninitiated, are potent bits of data used by the host website to track and record a visitor’s activity.
“Healthcare.gov. chokes on its own cookies,” Mr. Simo observes.
HERE COMES THE FOIA
Picture perfect? Well, no. President Obama’s news conference on the sun-dappled White House lawn Monday did not shed much light on the problems of the Affordable Care Act.
“The Rose Garden isn’t big enough to fit the millions of American families receiving letters in the mail that the health insurance they like is being canceled or that their premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are going up yet again,” says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
“Obamacare’s problem is larger than a website failure, and it will take more than a ‘tech surge’ to fix it. The website does serve as stark evidence that the federal government is ill-equipped to centrally manage our nation’s health care,” the Virginia Republican notes.
House Speaker John A. Boehner already has said that the Grand Old Party will launch a series of “smart, targeted strikes” against the health care law. And here they come. Like many baffled observers, party officials are eager to see the actual enrollment numbers, the factual revelations that the White House is keeping in house.
The Republican National Committee has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requesting information on the number of Americans who have enrolled in health insurance through the federal website Healthcare.gov.
The numbers, reason committee Chairman Reince Priebus, will reveal the true, ineffective status of the site.
“Really, it’s telling that they don’t want to give out any numbers. This is an administration that never misses an opportunity to brag. They’ve previously leaked sensitive national security information to burnish their image. So what are they hiding?” Mr. Priebus asks.
“It’s important for Americans to see these numbers because they illustrate just how terrible the system is and how poorly designed the law was. The administration isn’t living up to its promises, and they must be held accountable,” the chairman adds.